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June 3, 2014

Wind power and windfall

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

The zero-emission credit is just a piece of the state’s incentives to the wind industry, noted Mosier. Wind producers also receive a five-year exemption on property taxes. Payments in that program topped $32 million last year.

Mosier said Legislators should cap the subsidies.

“The Legislature needs to look at it,” he said. “They need to understand what it’s going to be so that they can plan for it.”

But Mastin notes the states offers many tax incentives to businesses that operate in Oklahoma. Most programs aren’t capped, he said, and divvying up credits under a cap involves a complex process.

Others contend the tax credit — like the wind industry, itself — is beneficial to the state.

“I don’t think it’s in the state’s best interest to downsize our incentives that are working,” said Curt Roggow, Oklahoma policy director for the Wind Coalition, which encourages wind development in the region. “When you have an incentive package that works, you have an increased economy that comes from that.”

A former state representative from Enid, Roggow noted the industry’s benefits for Oklahoma, as described by a study his group released earlier this year. The industry pays more than $22 million a year in royalties to Oklahoma landowners, has created more than 1,600 jobs in the state, and has invested billions of dollars, according to the coalition.

Neighboring states including Kansas and Texas offer “very competitive incentive packages” to lure wind producers, he said, which makes Oklahoma’s tax credits essential to influencing profit-minded developers.

“The economic benefits of the wind farm last far beyond the expiration of the tax credit,” he said.

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